When I was in sixth, grade I met Jamila. She was exotic to me. Tall and beautiful. She fascinated me. She used to put on my bottom eyeliner in the bathroom at school because I wasn’t allowed to wear make-up yet. She also taught me how to wash it off. That was something we shared. A strict and sheltered upbringing.
She instantly became my best friend. The coolest thing about being kids are that you aren’t filled with prejudgements yet, or maybe it was another time. Yes, it definitely was another time, because I knew she was Muslim. We talked about it. I had never been brought up with a set religion. My dad was a Protestant, my mom was Presbyterian, but we never belonged to a church. I was never baptized. So hearing about her religion was nothing stranger than anything I had heard in any mangled teaching of every other religion I heard of through my friends. Religion was not practiced or discussed much in my household. So I never thought twice about what she or her family believed. I liked her because she was really nice to me and we had a lot of fun together. We had this thing, that was a part of her culture that if you stepped on the back of your friend’s heel you had to immediately turn around and shake hands. Like some sort of superstition that something bad would happen between the the two of us if we didn’t shake hands after a shoe shiner! I mean my father never would let us have a black cat… So superstition or not, we never tested it. We shook hands every time. What I would have done to get though middle school without her I don’t know.
We were sophomores when 9/11 happened. I didn’t know the day it was happening just how much it would change her life. I didn’t really start thinking about it until recently. How hard her life must have been after that day as an American Muslim
Where would I be had I not had that friendship?
What kind of judgements would I have rushed to like so many fellow Americans.
Jamila to me represents the Islamic Religion. She is a Muslim American and she Jamila represents a piece of me. I am a better person because of her. Bad people are bad people and Good people are good people. It doesn’t matter your religion. It doesn’t matter your race. It doesn’t matter where you come from. Do good on others, and don’t judge. Or else you might just miss out on finding your best friend.
You can see the beautiful woman my childhood friend has become. I am truly proud of you! You were destined for greatness! Visit http://www.zohrasadat.com/ @zohrasadat